NPO publishes blog articles to inform and to stimulate conversation about issues of importance to NPO's mission. All blog articles express the opinions of the authors as individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of National Parents Organization, its Board of Directors, or its executives.
What’s been for many years a quiet change in family laws may be about to become one in the U.K. as well (The Star, 1/30/19). It seems one Member of Parliament, Louise Haigh of Sheffield, intends to put forward a bill terminating the parental rights of men who rape women who then become pregnant. Similar bills have been considered – and several have passed – by state legislatures here in the U.S.
But, as Haigh and her supporters will likely discover, what seems to be an open-and-shut case for reform is a bit more complicated than they might think.
Here’s a soft piece on child protective services (The Atlantic, 1/27/19). Writer Diane Redleaf knows enough about her topic to get her facts correct, but apparently not enough to pinpoint many of the problems CPS agencies create in the lives of parents and children.
Her basic point is that, once CPS decides a parent may have abused a child, that parent is in for a long, uncomfortable ride through the CPS system, pretty much irrespective of whether he/she abused the child or not. With the police, we call that “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.” The same is true of CPS. Caseworkers can put the fear of God into any parent, even those who know they’ve done nothing wrong.
Here’s a must-see video about the resistance to equal parenting in Texas. It’s by Wayne Dolcefino, who’s never been my favorite television journalist. Dolcefino has a track record that leans heavily on shouting and much less on principled examination of issues. Years ago, he was a product of the television news industry in which scandal and crisis are the quick route to a successful career. And, if the news happens to be short of either, well, what’s an ambitious reporter to do but create some?
But in the video, Dolcefino is his more mature, considered self. He’s still raking muck, but this time he gets his facts straight.
In Great Britain, a court has ordered a woman to pay a man £250,000 for paternity fraud (The Sun, 1/6/19). That’s great news, right? After all, paternity fraud is illegal precisely nowhere. In about five states in the U.S. there can be very limited financial consequences for lying about paternity, but a court’s awarding a defrauded man damages is all but unheard of. But alas, the reality of the British case is far less encouraging than we might have wished.
It seems Richard and Kate Mason were married for over 20 years and had three sons including younger twins. They divorced in 2006 and, pursuant to the financial settlement, the co-founder of the internet comparison site, MoneySupermarket.com, forked over a hefty £4 milllion. The two went their separate ways.
This continues yesterday’s post on Dr. Anna Manchin’s vital and highly informative article (Aeon, 1/17/19). Put simply, it should be required reading for anyone with an interest in fathers, children, mothers, families, etc.
To recap briefly, Manchin argues that fatherhood, the investment by males in their offspring, was critical, perhaps all-important, to our species’ evolutionary success? That’s because our big-brain strategy for survival and our upright posture mean our children are born extremely immature. They also come, with fairly rare exceptions, one at a time. It also means they take an inordinate amount of time to reach sexual maturity. So how’s a species like that to survive when infants and females were under constant threat of illness, accident or death? Females had to wean their children far earlier than do our closest primate relatives, meaning that they renewed ovulation sooner and could produce additional offspring.
This is a necessary article (Aeon, 1/17/19). That is, if you want to understand fathers, their relationships to mothers and their kids, you need to read and digest it thoroughly. The writer, Anna Machin, reprises some of what I’ve said before in this blog, but adds much, much more. Her astonishing thesis is that it is fathers and the role they play in children’s lives that separate us from other primates. That of course is a powerful statement, given the amazing and unpredictable evolutionary success of Homo sapiens. Is it really just about dads?
Well, no. Countless other factors enter in, but consider Machin’s words:
Andrew Yarrow’s piece in the Washington Post about which I wrote last time has much to recommend it. As I said last time, Yarrow grasps not only many of men’s problems, but excoriates as “morally wrong” the Left’s refusal to acknowledge, much less address, those problems. His is a powerful article that all people who believe themselves to be liberal should take to heart.
But, like most discourse on men within the liberal realm, Yarrow’s article suffers from a misunderstanding of current society and why those problems have arisen. In those rare writings by liberals that take men’s problems seriously, it’s a standard trope that a changing economy and workforce have left men behind and they don’t know how to catch up. When once a young man could graduate from high school and get a job that supported a family of four or five, now it take far more. And the industrial economy is far less the pillar of the GDP than it used to be. In short, men need more education in more highly technical fields than ever before. A high school diploma just won’t cut it any more.
From the paper that brought us “Why Can’t We Hate Men?” comes this (Washington Post, 1/18/19). It’s written by former New York Times journalist Andrew Yarrow and verges on the excellent. It’s not excellent for reasons I’ll go into later, but it gets close. Yarrow gets close to “getting it.”
Unsurprisingly, Yarrow calls himself a liberal, but he means that in the classic sense.
Now it’s Dr. Leonard Sax’s turn to savage the new APA Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys (IFStudies, 1/15/19). Sax, like Michael Gurian about whose response to the APA I wrote this past Wednesday is that rara avis who takes the needs of men and boys seriously. Not only that, he takes the science of his profession – psychologist – seriously too. So it’s no surprise that he scorns the new guidelines.
His piece is aimed mostly at the science on men and boys and the lack of it supporting the guidelines. But Sax also points out some of the more obvious deficiencies of the APA’s screed. For example,
This is the story of the night my divorce tried to kill me. After 18 years and 3 children I found myself on the other side of a divorce. My wife was pursuing other interests and I got served with papers and a date for a temporary hearing. I was a full time dad, student, and caregiver to my family’s special needs. I was hands on.
I was asked to leave the house and I refused. That’s when my fight began. I stayed home with my children through the temporary hearing as I withstood false accusations, slander, and prolific mistreatment.
This is the third in my series on the APA Guidelines for Practice with Men and Boys.
To bring a much-needed helping of sanity to the subject of the psychology of men and boys comes the ever-excellent Michael Gurian (The Federalist, 1/14/19). Gurian is a world authority on the brain chemistry of males and females and on differing therapeutic approaches to each. Over the years, he’s penned some 32 books, at least one of which made the NYT’s Best Seller list.
His point in his Federalist piece is that men and boys aren’t just products of our culture and they’re not uniquely privileged by it. They have their own male-specific brains and biochemistry and any effort (like that of the APA) to relegate them to an ideologically-skewed set of traits that must be eradicated is to do far more harm than good.
Continued from yesterday.
In my first piece on the new APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Men and Boys, I pointed out that the description of masculine norms on offer by the Guidelines seems to bear little resemblance to, well, men and boys. Some, such as “achievement,” seem to pretty accurately peg masculine aspirations and behavior. Others such as “violence” and “anti-femininity” don’t even get close. So I inquired as to how the APA came up with these categories and noted that there was no citation to any published work to let us know.
It was barely 45 years ago that the American Psychological Association officially (if not entirely) stopped calling homosexuality a form of mental illness. As of 2019 it now casts the same slur at “traditional masculinity.”(APA. 1/2019) The APA has promulgated its Guidelinesfor Psychological Practice with Men and Boys and, like the government, the APA is here to help (APA, 8/2018). Look out lads people like Michael Kimmel have proclaimed that they understand you and – quelle surprise! – no one but them can give you the help you so urgently need.
What’s been most publicized about the guidelines is the continuing education paper by Stephanie Pappas linked to above in which she memorably explains that “traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful.” Of course the guidelines themselves make no such assertion, but it’s helpful to have Pappas around to give voice to the reality behind the carefully-chosen words of the actual APA document.
Continued from yesterday.
I’d like to ask David French a question: “Did you grow up with a father? That is, was your father present in the household, was he a tangible presence in your life?”
The reason I ask is that, in his National Review article, French demonstrates that he grasps the value of fathers to children, particularly boys.
There’s been quite a kerfuffle among the center-right commentariat over the past few days. Fox’s Tucker Carlson started it with a ten-minute opinion piece on some of the ways in which this culture denigrates men and boys to everyone’s detriment. Many of Carlson’s points hit the nail on the head.
His was followed by an article by David French in the National Review, and it’s French’s on which I’d like to remark today (National Review, 1/7/19).
French is right about most of what he says. He points out that the process of raising boys to be men – i.e. the type of men we desire and society needs – is a long and difficult one.
When the bell rings on opening day this Wednesday, January 9, 2019, in the Missouri Assembly, companion shared parenting bills, HB 229 sponsored by Representative Kathy Swan and SB 14 sponsored by Senator Wayne Wallingford, will be ready for legislative action. The legislative language in these bills has been vetted in previous sessions and so these bills are ready for passage. State advocates of shared parenting are ready to help advance the interests of children and parents in Missouri by informing state officials about the importance of getting these bills across the finish line and signed into law. Rebuttable presumption of equal parenting is not mandatory and judges have discretion in circumstances where exceptions exist or it would be dangerous for the child. It simply means that for fit and willing parents who want equal time with their children, it should be allowed and encouraged.
All research points to equal parenting time after divorce or separation as a common sense policy that is in the best interest of children and families. Sharing the parenting after a divorce reduces conflict and helps children have a sense of stability in their lives which most parents would agree is important. This means less stress on children, reduced litigation costs and frees up court docket time. While there is broad agreement that an intact family is part of the American dream, burying our heads in the sand when it comes to parenting laws after divorce is no solution. Equal shared parenting is best for children of divorce.
A measure of sanity now leavens New Jersey’s public policy on the enforcement of child support delinquencies (New Jersey Law Journal, 1/2/19). State Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson has struck down as violating the state’s constitution that portion of a New Jersey statute mandating automatic driver’s license suspension in all cases in which “a child support arrearage equals or exceeds the amount of child support payable for six months or court-ordered health care coverage for the child is not provided for six months.”
In those cases, child support obligors in the Garden State were afforded neither notice of the state’s action against them nor a hearing. To say the least, that’s an astonishing breach of the most basic tenets of due process of law, a fact Judge Jacobson explicitly noted. She also wrote in her 187-page opinion that the 1988 law violated the principle of “fundamental fairness.”
She’s right on both counts. The idea that a state can or should deprive a person of one of the most basic necessities of modern life without providing an opportunity to be heard and prove, if the facts support it, the inability to pay, is obviously at odds with constitutional precepts.
She explained that “both due process and fundamental fairness require courts to provide counsel to indigent obligors at any hearing at which a hearing officer may recommend a driver’s license suspension to a court, or at any hearing when the family court itself is considering a driver’s license suspension.”Judge Jacobson issued an injunction against enforcement of the law and gave the state 120 days to establish policies that afford delinquent obligors an opportunity to be heard.
The linked-to article is a good one. The editors of the Law Journal clearly know the basics about child support and the process of enforcement.
Delinquency is concentrated among low income parents with support obligations…
We find that Judge Jacobson’s ruling addresses an important public problem. We hope that the governor, attorney general, and the Division of Family Development will work diligently and earnestly to produce the new regulations which the court has granted 120 days to formulate. Judge Jacobson declined to make her order retroactive. Thousands of parents—especially low income—doubtless remain stranded without driving privileges. Their status is something which the Legislature can and should address.Indeed. The federal Office of Child Support Administration has long known and stated that some 63% of child support obligors behind on their payments report earnings of less than $10,000 per year. The heavy weight of draconian enforcement methods falls most heavily on those least able to bear it.
Meanwhile, Judge Jacobson cited some pithy facts about the impact of driver’s license suspension.
In her comprehensive opinion, Judge Jacobson took note of a 2006 study by the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy with the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission—“Motor Vehicles Affordability and Fairness.” The report “found that 42 percent of individuals who had their licenses suspended lost jobs as a result of the suspension, 45 percent of those who lost jobs could not find another job, and 88% of those that were able to find another job reported a decrease in income.” Jacobson wrote that “[e]ven though most of the Report’s findings addressed license suspensions in general and did not focus on child support-related suspensions, it is reasonable to assume that the affected dependents likely included many children who are the subject of child support orders, and the very individuals that the automatic license suspensions were intended to benefit.” The Bloustein/MCV report also found that in low income areas “child support suspension rates for drivers…were ten times higher than the statewide average.”In other words, what child support reform advocates have been saying for decades is the truth – suspending drivers’ licenses makes paying child support much harder. It acts to defeat the very end the state claims to be pursuing – money to support children. That the state legislature did so in such a patently unconstitutional manner was outrageous in 1988 when the law was passed and has remained so ever since.
The late 80s of course were the heyday of the notion that fathers had no interest in their children and sought any way possible to avoid supporting them. That of course is so much bunk and has been proven to be so many times by scrupulous social science. But still public policies based on exactly that willful misunderstanding of fathers and their attachment to their children (and vice versa) continues to inform public policy regarding family law.
Kudos to Judge Jacobson. She’s struck a much-needed blow for sanity in the public policy that governs child support and its enforcement.
The Washington Post is at it again (Washington Post, 1/1/19). In the linked-to article, the Post pulls out all the stops to reinforce the notion that men, but not women, are dangerous to their families and kids. The most remarkable part of the piece is that it uses a case in which a mother murdered her two children to try to make the point.
On about September 5, 2018, Noera Ayaz shot and killed her two sons and then herself. Not one word of the article even suggests that she should be criticized for doing so. On the contrary, the entire piece extols her virtues as a mother and human being generally.
Some articles say a little in a lot of words, but some, like this one, say a lot in a few (TMZ, 12/31/18). Now, I doubt that the anonymous writer knows how much he/she’s actually communicating, but that doesn’t alter the fact that the piece is a small gold mine or information. It weighs in at a bantam-weight 140 words, but those with eyes to see and ears to hear know it speaks volumes.
It’s about former NBA journeyman Matt Barnes who played with a number of different teams over his 14-year career, his ex-wife Gloria Govan and their twin sons Carter and Isaiah, aged 10.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that, under state law, a mother who abused a variety of addictive drugs during pregnancy did not violate the law prohibiting child abuse, despite her baby being born addicted to opiates (Bucks County, Courier Times, 12/29/18).
The case involves a girl who spent 19 days in Williamsport Hospital last year after she was born, being treated for drug dependence that caused severe withdrawal symptoms. Her mother had relapsed into drug use after getting out of jail, and two weeks before the girl was born in January 2017 the mother tested positive for opiates, marijuana and benzodiazepines, [Justice Christine] Donohue wrote.
Here’s one of those ‘Ask the Lawyer’ type of articles that appear in so many publications (Lebanon Democrat, 12/27/18). This one’s short, but reveals so, so much. The lawyer is Jim Hawkins of Tennessee. He begins his piece with a fact:
Striking fact: During 2017, 43.6 percent of all Tennessee babies were born to unmarried mothers.
Now we come to the nut of Bud Dale’s claims to the Family Law Advisory Committee of the Kansas Judicial Council. In my first piece, I dealt with the fact that Dale intentionally misrepresented to the committee NPO’s report on the parenting time guidelines of Ohio family courts. In my second, I pointed out that he relies on the current system for at least part of his income, a fact that may better explain his opposition to salutary change than any principled opposition to children having meaningful relationships with their father post-divorce. I also noted that, although he was on the AFCC committee that promulgated guidelines for the use of scientific literature in forensic settings, Dale violated at least three of the ten guidelines in his letter to the Family Law Advisory Committee.
His letter gives a glimpse of his take on shared parenting and the science on parenting time and children’s well-being.
As I mentioned in my last piece, Bud Dale’s letter to the Family Law Advisory Committee of the Kansas Judicial Council is riddled with inaccuracies and at least one outright lie. But it gets worse. Dale opposes any change in the law that would promote shared parenting arrangements for kids post-divorce. His letter would have the committee believe that he does so out of the highest of high principles, but a closer examination of Dale himself suggests otherwise.
Dale is both a lawyer and a psychologist. Wearing his latter hat, he earns money as a custody evaluator. Wearing his former, he earns money as a mediator. In short, he feeds at two troughs provided by the existing family court system, troughs that might well run dry and be upended by a presumption of shared parenting. Dare we to deduce that his opposition to shared parenting is more of a matter of self-interest than of the best interests of kids?